GFD Ashes Lie: Chapter 1

I knew this day would come. But I never really prepared for it.

It’s a numb feeling…having your father pass away. His presence now reduced to a series of half forgotten memories. His image….now reduced to a cold slab of stone, bearing his name proudly for strangers to walk by and ignore.

Staring down at it now…I couldn’t help but to wonder if I could have been closer to this man. If I could have been more open. Let him in on who I really am. He may have helped me to find myself on a level deeper than what I ever could have achieved alone.

And now here I am…left wondering. Without answers. Adrift.

A cool breeze blew through the silent markers of the graveyard that night as I remembered the many good times we shared together. I thought about how he had always been a rock for me to hold onto through the storm. How he always talked about honesty, and how he always gave it to me straight…even when it hurt. Even when he found out about my crossover, forsaking daylight and my humanity for all eternity…he was strong enough to still embrace me, and show me all the unconditional love that a father could muster for his only son. Heh…to think back on it, I think he had more trouble dealing with my sexuality than my crossover. I suppose sucking blood is better than sucking dick any day for some dads. And yet…even though I must have really tested him countless times, from the day I was born in daylight until the age of 17 when I was reborn into darkness…he never stopped supporting me. He stood at my side, held my hand, and did all he could to shelter me from the evils of the world.

Then I became one of those evils myself.

Forty two years…I can’t believe it’s been that long since I left the sun behind. I can’t believe it feels so short. So fleeting. I came to visit him often in the beginning, but unfortunately I’ve been in hiding for nearly a decade now. So the visits weren’t as possible as they were before. The first twenty years flew by like nothing, and he was always happy to see me, but I could tell that he missed me. He used to say that I was the only person would even think to come knocking at his door at that time of night. He always knew it was me. And he’d force himself to get out of bed, come downstairs to let me in…and then just talk with me. Sometimes for hours over multiple cups of coffee. Not that I needed them. Those late night visits meant everything to me. And now…I guess those days are over.

I watched my father grow old over time. Brittle and gray. It seemed such a subtle thing at first, but the last few years were hard. I didn’t age at all and his body was…deteriorating right before my eyes. I won’t lie…I once offered him the ‘gift’. I could have bitten him myself. I could have given him all the time he wanted on this Earth. But he refused. Something about, ‘having the grace to die when his life had been lived and his time was up’. That’s how he put it. Grace.

He died at the age of 87. Peacefully, in his sleep. He was buried here less than a week ago. The mound was still fresh. Naturally, I couldn’t have gone to the funeral. But that didn’t mean that I couldn’t come later and pay my respects. It would be an insult to do anything less.

I got down on one knee, and gently rubbed my hand over the smooth surface of his headstone. I think…something about actually touching the marker caused my emotions to move without warning, and my eyes began to water…as I remembered the warmth of his smile.

“Well, Pop…you did it. You lived with grace…and you died with grace.” I whispered. “I can’t even describe what it feels like…to talk to you and know that you can’t answer me.” I began to sniffle some, and tears slid down my cheeks. “I don’t know what life would have been like…if things were different. Or if…I hadn’t fallen in love and crossed over. If I had the chance to grow up into the man you were hoping I would be someday. But…through it all…you were my idol. You will ALWAYS be my idol. You weren’t just my father. You were my best friend. I’m…really gonna miss you, Pop. I hope you’re still proud of me.” I didn’t bother to wipe the tears away. I let them roll freely down my cheeks as I leaned forward to lightly press my lips to his tombstone. “You were the best dad that I ever could have asked for. There are other kids out there who should be so lucky. I just wanted to say…thank you. Thank you…for being my hero. If I live long enough to see the sun itself flicker out like a lit match…I’ll still remember you, and keep everything you taught me in my heart forever. I promise, Pop. I promise.”

“My, my, my…how very touching.” Came a sinister voice from the darkness behind me. My tears seemed to shut off immediately, my instincts already kicking in to tighten my body and sharpen my focus.

How did they know? More importantly, how did I let them sneak up on me? My distress had broken me down to a moment of weakness. I should have been more careful.

“Seventeen years, Mr. Prince.” The voice said. “Seventeen years, we’ve been searching for you. Waiting for the great assassin, ‘Flatline’, to finally come out of hiding and show his face again.”

“I’m not an assassin.” I said, keeping my eyes focused on the headstone. “I never was.”

“Come now, Jonathan. You killed people for money and helped countless others do the same. What do you think an assassin does?” He said again. And it was then that an entire army of other shadowed figures became evident in the area. Mostly human, but I could always detect the nearly silent footsteps of a hunter when I heard them. “You know…I heard a nasty rumor, a few years back. Did you know about this? Apparently…the Jonathan Prince that I know supposedly went completely off the grid for a while. Vanished…into thin air. Then, after becoming weary from being on the run for so long, our informants all claimed that he had taken a sun quest to end his life. It was reported as being a ‘great loss’ to the art of murder itself. Such a talented killer…it seemed like such a waste.” The voice was moving closer, stepping a bit further into the light. It was a familiar face that Jonathan remembered well. A voice that was unmistakable. Same black suit. Same dark sunglasses, even at night. Same loathsome human stench. “Every agent we had did their homework on you, and all came up with the same answer. Jonathan Prince was no more. But, you know…I never really quite bought the whole sun quest story. Something just didn’t…’click’ with me. You’re not really a sun quest kind of vampire. No…there’s no honor in that. You’re a soldier, Mr. Prince. A warrior spirit. You’d rather take a shiv to the heart and tough out the starvation than catch a sunrise like some coward.”

I gritted my teeth, and told him, “Maybe you’ve got the wrong guy. Did you ever think of that?”

“Highly doubtful.” The man replied. “Not to overlook the absolutely astounding amount of work that you put in to covering your tracks. Yes, we found your supposed sun quest location. Gathered the ashes for testing. Definitely of vampire origin and adequate for a person of your height, weight, and age. We got word from all of our informants that you were dead and gone. But still…tsk tsk tsk…I JUST couldn’t bring myself to believe it. So…while others let go of the search, I decided to keep digging. JUST to see what turned up in the old garbage disposal once the sink finished draining. And what do ya know? Here you are. All alive and well.” Then, he added, “You did an expert job of planting the evidence, but you see…sometimes…ashes lie.”

Taking a look around without moving my head at all, I detected maybe a total of 30 men surrounding me on all sides. All armed with guns and shivs. But they’re nervous. I can hear the dirt under their feet quake as they step forward. I see that my reputation precedes me.

I felt the tears I shed for my father rapily drying on my face. He had a lot of nerve tracking me down here. This man had no heart whatsoever. And they call us vampires the ‘parasites’ of humanity?

“I don’t suppose we could discuss this another time, Agent Watts?” I said.

“Awww, sorry. But no. I’m afraid that I can’t really put much faith in your word anymore. We’ve been searching for you far too long to just let you walk away from us now.” Watts said. Once a professional ‘handler’ of mine…he’s now the biggest thorn in my side. “It didn’t have to be this way, Flatline. You brought this on yourself. And down upon the heads of everyone that you’re connected to. Business or, uh….otherwise.” He said with a wicked sneer.

I didn’t let the emotion show on my face. I didn’t dare. “How did you find me?”

“It wasn’t easy. You might have been able to stay in hiding forever if it was just us chasing you all over the globe. We needed a different approach. We had to make you come to us instead. So, to be honest, it was your old man here that gave us the old ‘moth to a flame’ advantage. The old coot had to kick the bucket some time, right?” Ok…now THAT struck a nerve. But I knew Watts well, and that’s exactly what he was looking for. It was just another tactic to get me to lose my head and start thinking irrationally. I won’t. “Don’t feel bad. You couldn’t help it. You see…all vampires, even bonafide, kick ass, hunters such as yourself…have a common weakness. Vampires…they can cheat the odds, they can cheat the system, they can cheat the laws of physics in some cases…hell, they’ve even learned to cheat death in exchange for near immortality. BUT…when it comes to weaknesses, there’s one thing that your kind just can’t seem to escape, no matter how hard you try. The haunting curse of nostalgia. That’s the one thing that we can always count on. Lonely vampires being uncontrollably pulled back to a life in daylight that simply doesn’t want them anymore. No vampire can resist the golden allure of the life it left behind. At some point, you ALL have to return home.” He said. “Once your father’s obituary popped up on our system of searches…it was only a matter of time. You should be careful who you talk to, Mr. Prince. Knowledge is, indeed….power.” The sick son of a bitch. He deserves to bleed out right here over my father’s grave for being such a soulless bastard. But I kept my mind clear. Continuing the conversation as I mentally scanned all the possible outcomes of this situation. Gauging my position. Searching for any makeshift weapons that I might be able to use to defend myself. Then Agent Watts stepped closer, and my fist automatically tightened up in anger, shaking, as he was almost close enough to reach up and rip his fucking heart out. I think he knew he was too close. I think he danced on the line just for the sake of seeing me squirm. He always did enjoy his little tortures. “I’m glad that most people ignored the random, unconfirmed, sightings of you all over the world. I practically ‘made’ you, I wanted to be the one to catch you. I kept the books open, personally, waiting for this precise moment when I’d get to see you again. You had a good run, though. Cairo, Beijing, Lima, San Paulo, Paris, Brisbane, Berlin, Toronto, Seattle…I even have a blurry photo of you from Sierra Leone. You’ve been a *VERY* hard halflife to catch up to, Mr. Prince. But honestly…did you REALLY believe that you could hide from us forever?”

“That was the plan.” I needed to find an escape route. Calculate the possibilities of an exit with minimal damage. I don’t want a war. I want to vanish. I shouldn’t have come. It was against my better judgement. I let my emotions get a hold of me. Just a few more seconds to think. Keep him talking. Once I’m gone…I’m gone for good. I’ll burrow so far underground that they’ll NEVER cross my vision again. “For the record…there was no honor in what I did for you. No honor in what you stole from me. My extra…you can’t have it. The vampire population won’t stand for the system of modern day slavery that your superiors are trying to put in place. They’ll rebel against you. You’re playing with fire.”

“It is not my job to question the will of the Elders. It’s my job to tie up all of the loose ends that were left to dangle. You should have pushed your feelings aside and just done what you were paid to do. When they get you back to the lab, they’re going to strip your extra from you with a level of pain that you cannot even IMAGINE. And when they’re done, what’s left of you will be sent to blaze in the light of day without a second thought. That I can guarantee.”

“There was a time that I believed that what I was doing might help bring justice to the growing violence in the streets amongst each other. But they LIED to me, Watts! And they’re lying to you too. You’re just a ‘pet’ to them, don’t you get it? It’s all just a game. And you’re simply another pawn on the board.”

“Well, fortunately, the game has come to an end, my friend. The checkmate has been made.” I could feel the others closing in. Cautiously tightening up their perimeter as they moved in to ‘collect’ me. “The Circle Nocturnus does *NOT* like to be made fools of, Flatline. The Vampire Elder Masato has expressed special interest in overseeing your execution personally. Despite the dire circumstances…you should see this as a great honor. Masato wouldn’t do that for just anyone. That makes you…a very rewarding catch indeed.”

“I’m not going back, Watts.” I said defiantly.

“You don’t have a choice.”

“But you do.” I told him. “You can either walk away, let me be on my way back to obscurity, and forget that you ever saw me…or you can try your best to stop me…get all of these good men killed, and end up getting slaughtered right along with them. Choose. I’ll give you fifteen seconds.”

Agent Watts smiled. “You are still just as feisty as I remember. But I should warn you…we’ve got a few heavy hitters on our team tonight too. So be sure that sweet little poker face of yours isn’t a bluff. I don’t think hunters ‘Snakebite’ and ‘Shortcut’ are going to respond well to idle threats. You might want to think twice about this. You’ve been out of the game for almost a decade. I’m sure you’ve gone soft by now.”

“Ten seconds, Watts.”

“No last words for dear old dad? I’d like to think that you’d want to stay for a few more minutes, continue your little talk with him….before you JOIN him in the ether.”

“Five…”

“I see we’re going to have to do this the hard way.”

“Four…”

“You’re making a mistake….”

“Three…”

“Heh…you KNOW you can’t win.”

“TWO…”

“Take him down!!!” Agent Watts shouted, but it was already too late.

I looked up and stared him right in the eyes, piercing the dark lenses of his sunglasses to see the touch of fear revealed in his gaze. I said, “Remember this moment, Agent Watts…when you have to make calls to let the families of these human men know what happened to them.” Adding only, “You should have let me go. I was better off dead.”

I didn’t hesitate. Not for a second. Moving faster than his human eyes could register, I placed my hands on my father’s grave, and flipped over it…my feet hitting the ground and charging North to try to get out of there with as little mayhem as possible. The gunfire started immediately, but it was more ‘random panic fire’ than anything else. Bullets raining in every different direction. Watts should have trained them better before bringing them out after someone like me. A waste. SUCH a waste.

I wanted to leave the evil and the violence behind me. I wanted to be free from what they wanted me to be and build the rest of my existence on love and peace of mind. But they just WON’T leave me alone! They’ll chase me to the ends of the EARTH if they have to! So I’ve got to PROVE to them that it’s unwise to continue to tangle with me this way. Once again, I’ve been dragged back down to their level. But this time, I hope to send a very clear message to the Elders. ‘Flatline’ is no longer for sale.

Father…please forgive me. I know that you wanted me to be a better man…but it has to be done. You always taught me to fight for what I believe in, and I can’t give up on this. Not with what they’re planning. I’m sorry. There is no other way.

The barrage of machine gun fire tore through the scene around me without mercy. Holes in trees, ricochets off of headstones, tiny muffled explosions in the dirt at my feet. I put my back to one of the graveyard’s stone mausoleums, and conserved my breath for a few short moments while out of the line of fire as Watts’ goons rushed forward to pursue me. They won’t kill me. They need what I’ve got. But they’ll do all they can to immobilize me and damage my body to the point where I can’t fight anymore. I’ll go as easy on them as I can…but if they push me, I’m going to push back. Hard.

One of the soldiers came around the corner, and I grabbed the barrel of his gun, pushing it back to face the other members of his team, setting off a few short bursts of machine gun fire into their chests. Let’s hope they were smart enough to wear bulletproof vests on this job.

The soldiers in front fell back from the blasts, and the others took positions to send more bullets whizzing past me. I ducked back behind the mausoleum again. I could hear them approaching from both sides. So I reached my hands up to hold on to the top of the monument and flipped up on to the roof.

“He’s up there!” They shouted, but I hardly gave them a chance to strategize. I cartwheeled off and landed right in the middle of their cluster. With lightning speed, I tangled them up, arms, legs, elbows, knees…moving back and forth between them so fast with calculated strikes that they could hardly get their footing straight. Staying in the middle kept them from shooting at one another, and that instantly put them at a serious disadvantage.

They continued to fight, even when I knocked them down or tripped them up with a touch of mercy. So I had to play a little rougher with them to get them to stay down. I grabbed a soldier’s hand, and bent his palm back until his wrist broke, then twisted it to send him spinning to the ground. Another soldier felt the impact of my side kick shattering his kneecap just before I flipped backwards to kick him in the chin as he reached down to soothe the agony. A front kick to the stomach of the man in front of me, then a low back kick to knock the man behind me down to one knee. A roundhouse to connect with the jaw of the man behind him, then rolling over his back to mix it up with three more on the other side. My ears detect a ‘click’, and I lean back to avoid a gunshot that causes the soldier in front of me to take the blow. His head explodes in a shower of liquid on contact. His blood stains my face. Stupid son of a bitch! Shooting his own teammate. He should have been more careful! This man didn’t have to DIE for this!

I rolled behind a tombstone as more shots rang through the night air and they attempted to turn up the heat. So much for an easy escape.

They held me down with cover fire, and two men attacked with shivs while I was still on the ground. The first came down with a stabbing motion, and I rolled onto my back to hold his hand still by locking my ankles around his wrist. The second attacked, and I yanked his companion into the path of the sharp metal shard, causing him to stab him through the shoulder. I released him, and kicked him to the ground, spinning around to sweep his feet from under him. I knocked him unconscious with a single punch, but the second my head came into view, the gunfire worked to pin me down again.

I took another few seconds to breathe and focus, closing my eyes for a moment to keep my head clear. Just as Agent Watts once taught me. Strange that I should be using it against him now. I rolled from behind the tombstone, hearing the dirt being penetrated by projectiles as I moved from one headstone to another. Then I was able to get behind a tree, and took yet another momentary breath. I think I was grazed a few times, but nothing major. Good. Just have to keep heading North. I can lose them in the alleys if I have to.

Just then, I heard a ‘whistling’ sound coming from the left of me. And had it not been for my trained vampire reflexes, I would have easily been decapitated. I only saw a quick sliver of light as it reflected off of the edge of a flying short-sword, spinning rapidly like the bladed disc of a table saw. I reached up to catch it by the handle as it came right for my throat, looking down at the clearly printed symbol etched into the metal. A Hunter’s weapon for certain. And it was illuminated with this unnatural ‘glow’, sharing a mental connection with the one who threw it. But before I could study it fully, another whistling sound came from the right, and I was forced to drop down to keep another sword from nearly cutting me in half.

The second blade hit the bark of a nearby tree, getting lodged in it for a moment. Then, an invisible force ‘pulled’ it free, and soon, I felt the other sword in my hand being pulled out of my grasp as well. Both swords flew up into the air, and went right back to the hands of their owner. It was a tall, thin, Asian man. A vampire that must have crossed over in his mid twenties, dressed in a black suit with a blood red tie. His eyes were so dark, his expression…so cold. He caught both swords, and flipped his shoulder length ponytail back over his shoulder as he powered up his extra for another strike.

I tried to keep my eye on him, but the soldiers behind me came back to continue their assault. Bullets flew around my head as I kept myself just out of their view. There were enough tall gravestones to hide behind, almost creating a virtual maze of protective walls for me to use to my advantage. The soldiers spread out like a cluster of army ants, trying to find an angle. But I knew how to move both with speed and with stealth. I knew how to corner them and how to move between them without being seen. Cause them to trip and stumble over each other. It was the only way I kept their numbers  from overwhelming me. I reached out from around corners, jumped in and out of shadows, breaking just enough bones to cripple them without killing them. But I caught a hint of that whistling sound again, and by the time I saw the hunter standing on top of another mausoleum, the sword was already on its way to slice me in two. I contorted my body to bend backwards JUST in time to avoid the full wrath of the razor sharp blade…the whistling edge cutting the front of my shirt and leaving a healthy blood trail on my chest as it broke the skin.

I rolled to the ground, and looked up to watch the glowing sword as it boomeranged back to its master again. I saw him look down at me and my injury with a smirk…and that’s when I knew that running wasn’t going to be an option just yet. They’d chase me down and force me back for sure. If they wound me bad enough to incapacitate me before my next sleep cycle, they’d be able to take me back for termination. And I can’t go back there. I won’t leave my love behind. Not for them. Not for anyone.

I let my crimson glow blaze brightly in my eyes and sprung back up to a standing position, charging the hunter at top speed. He drew both swords menacingly as I jumped up to the mausoleum rooftop, and we locked ourselves in fierce hand-to-hand combat. He was much faster than I expected. Trained by the same agents and academy vampires who trained me, no doubt. I recognize their tactics. Their movements. I could practically figure outt who his main instructors were. I moved my head, spinning and dodging as his two swords breezed right past me with deadly intent. The sword blades had a long slit of empty space right down the middle. That’s where the whistling came from. Handcrafted especially for him. Maybe even by him. Interesting tactic. It was distracting.

I caught an elbow in the gut, and he kicked me clear off the top of the mausoleum. The hard crash to the ground below temporarily knocked the wind out of me, but I didn’t have much of a chance to catch my breath. The hunter flipped off of the roof, and in mid air he threw both whistling swords in my direction. Their nearly undetectable path curved from both the right and left sides of me, converging in an ‘X’ shape with the hopes of cutting me to pieces. I leapt forward and twisted my body to avoid them as best as I could, but still took deep cuts on both of my arms! My blood splashed the headstone ahead of me as I saw the swords continue their circle back to his hands. Then…footsteps behind me.

Three soldiers approached, and I spun around to wrap one of my legs around the first man’s throat to bring him down and pin him to the ground beneath me. I reached out to grab the legs of the second, and pull them forward, forcing him to fall back as I dragged him close and dropped my elbow into his groin. There’s no other scream in the world like the ones you hear when you do something like that. The third soldier raised his gun, so I rolled off of the first, and kicked the gun to the side as I delivered multiple blows to his head and chest, finishing it off by bringing my heel up…and then down to shatter his shoulder blade.

The first soldier stood up, but he was unaware of the whistling heading my way. “GET DOWN!!!” I shouted…but it was too late. How can I expect a human to have reflexes like mine? Instinctively, my body maneuvered itself and back flipped out of the way of the twin blades. The soldier was not so fortunate. And I watched, wide eyed, as he fell to pieces right in front of me.

“Come on now, ‘Flatline’! Make this interesting, will you?” Watts shouted out from the darkness. “These highly trained hunters don’t come cheap! You could at least make this show worth the price of admission. I’ve been talking about your reputation non-stop for years now! Don’t disappoint me!”

Taking a moment to look for him, I saw Agent Watts standing next to yet another hunter. One who hadn’t said a word or moved from her position until that very moment. I saw her removing her hood to display a shockingly bright head of shoulder length white hair. Her fangs dropped and her eyes red as she took in a heavy breath and removed her coat. She had long gold bracelets on her arms, from her wrist to her elbow. Long gold bracelets on her legs as well. From her ankles to her knees. A thick gold belt, wrapped twice around her slim waistline. Gold shoulder braces, gold necklaces, gold rings, gold earrings…and beneath it all, a tight fitting black spandex outfit. Beautiful girl in her late teens, with black lipstick and black make-up circles around her eyes. It was then that I recognized the play.

One hunter to wear me down, one hunter to act as Watt’s personal bodyguard, and the soldiers were little more than a distraction to help even out the odds. I know this game. I’ve run it many times myself on assignment.

I also know that it has one fundamental flaw. When you attack the head of the operation, it instantly puts them on the defensive…and with the humans already in panic mode and shooting at everything that moves…things will soon begin to fall apart.

The best way to beat any system is to use its own laws and limitations against itself.

Knowing that, I cartwheeled away from the swordsman, ‘Shortcut’, and forced myself towards Agent Watts and his protective femme fatale.

Watts quickly backed up and ‘Snakebite’ moved in front of him to intercept. Our fists made contact as I tried to put as much pressure on her as I possibly could. She was extremely flexible. I had never seen a style quite like hers before. So unforgiving. So precise. And she had long nails that she used to rake my skin from time to time. She kept her position in front of Watts and cut me off at every turn. Then I heard the whistling blades coming for me again from behind.

I ducked and rolled to the side…giving the female hunter time to focus her energies on her extra. And before my very eyes, I watched as all of the gold she was wearing on her body began to melt itself down and morph into another shape entirely. It was like the decorative jewelry had a life of its own, and it slithered swiftly around her arms and legs like a thick liquid…hardening again in the form of a two headed golden snake on her shoulders. It was almost like an extra set of arms…but with teeth! The gilded serpent hissed from both sides, and she attacked again. This time I had four limbs to contend with. The extras she seemed to command with the slightest of ease were extremely difficult to defend against. She could change their shape at will, and she was VERY good at it.

As I grappled with her, I felt one of the snake heads sink its fangs deep into my left thigh, and I had to maneuver in order to pry its mouth open and get free again. She fought expertly with this metallic serpent on her shoulders. It wrapped itself around her arms and she could extended it outward to snap at me at will, forcing my acrobatic skills into a frenzy, just to avoid taking more damage.

“Are we having FUN yet, Mr. Prince???” Agent Watts shouted out with a grin.

Where the hell are the police in this town when you need them? They’ve GOT TO be hearing this!

I kept myself between my attackers, and when the swordsman jumped back into the fray, I found myself with quite the handful. I blocked and dodged as best as I could, but I was clearly taking a lot of damage. My body wasn’t going to be able to suffer too many more critical blows like the ones I had suffered so far. Already I was bruised and bleeding profusely from several nearly crippling wounds. I could hardly think straight, purely acting on instinct. But I kept moving, and got in all the major hits that I could get. And then….I heard it.

It was going to be one hell of a dash…but I heard it.

The elevated train was coming. I might have a total of three minutes to catch it…and that wasn’t going to be easy.

Thinking only of my escape route, I fought with all of the stored up energy that I had left. I needed to keep them tangled. Needed to keep them fighting against one another. I decreased the distance between the swordsman and me, hoping to keep him from throwing those whistling swords with any kind of lethal accuracy. I saw Snakebite transform one of the snake heads into a long sharp spear for a few moments, spinning it around her waist and neck, trying to stab at my legs. I moved quickly to avoid her attacks, and spun around to deliver a harsh kick to her stomach. She slid backwards on her feet, the spear returning to the form of a snake once she came to a stop. I heard the whistling again, and moved right in front of her to see if I could get Shortcut’s swords to take a slice out of her, but seconds before the blade made contact….it stopped in mid air. His control was remarkable, even at high speeds, and Shortcut called his weapons back to his hand without cutting his partner.

Now assaulted by TWO hunters at once, I looked towards the fence and plotted out the gravestones I needed to help me reach the train in time. Neither hunter, no matter how skilled, was ready for the natural talent and instinct that I had running through my veins. I think that I surprised them both, even though they came prepared for a major battle with one of the agency’s best soldiers. I kicked both of them to their backs at the same time, and only had seconds before Watts pulled his pistol and fired numerous rounds at me. I barely was able to get out of the way in time. He could feel me slipping through his fingertips, but that wasn’t my concern anymore. The fight wasn’t my goal. The train was my goal. And I didn’t have a second to spare.

I flipped forward and swung my leg around low to sweep Agent Watts off of his feet, then took of running,  keeping my head down as I bolted for the cemetary fence…the remaining human soldiers firing off as many bullets as they could in my direction.

There were police sirens in the distance. FINALLY! no doubt responding to the personal WAR that we had started on the edge of this once quiet residential area graveyard. I had to be gone when they got there. Watts has special privileges with law enforcement when it came to this kind of thing. I don’t. I focused on the sight of the approaching train, and just kept moving. The dirt under my feet was kicked up behind me in small clouds of dust as I reached top speed. Then I took a flying leap, hopping on top of tombstones and moving back and forth between them, heading towards the fence and the street beyond it. I could clearly ‘feel’ the other two hunters following me at equal speed. They were good. Really good. I guess it’s an honor to know that the agency brought out the best to take me down.

I flung myself over the fence, just as Shortcut’s two swords whizzed by my head and neck! I fell face down in the street in front of a string of cars, racing at me at 40 miles an hour. I rolled to the right to dodge the first. Rolled to the left to dodge the second. I had to move faster than I ever had before to keep from being run over. Then I jumped to my feet, just in time to  hurdle forward and roll over the hood of a car that was headed right for me.

I looked back to see both hunters dodging traffic with ease, and still in hot pursuit.Watts and his human S.W.A.T. team were just now catching up to the rest of us, and the train was racing by in the background. Move! Gotta keep moving!

I struggled through the passing cars, and finally got close enough to jump up and climb one of the streetlamps to get up to the elevated train tracks. It took all I had, but I bolted forward and nearly broke both of my ankles landing on the inclined surface leading up to the tracks. I held my stomach and moved quickly to catch the speeding train and spring up between cars so that I could easily pull myself up to the roof.

Breathless…

Bleeding…

Scarred and sliced….

I attempted to use every second that I could get, trying to monitor my breathing and concentrate on ridding myself of the many panicked thoughts running through my mind, combining them into one solid form where I could logically break them all down at once and toss out whatever I didn’t need at that particular moment. I held my chest, my heart beating with a near overdose of adrenaline. I can’t beat them all. Not here. Not now. They’ve already worn me down too much.

But that didn’t stop the hunters from doing their job and advancing on me with a vengeance.

I heard the slam of their feet hitting the top of the train as they hopped up on the roof from the side of the tracks. No time to rest now. Can’t show weakness. Get up Jonathan! Get up!

I flipped up to my feet and ran to meet them head on…all of us shouting out our battle cries as we lusted for the blood of our opponents. The three of us began our deadly dance as we each attempted to get the upper hand. They were good. I was better. The agency wasn’t going to find another fighter better than me. It just wasn’t going to happen. But being outnumbered two to one was definitely going to make things difficult. I slid my body around sword strikes, I dodged snake heads, I blocked punches and kicks until they were both sore from it. And When I struck out at their most vulnerable points…even though I know they were taught to hide the reaction and turn off the pain…they felt it. I know they did.

I felt the agony of golden snake fangs sinking into the side of my neck from behind. I was too busy trying to avoid the blades swinging wildly at my legs. I spun low to sweep her off of her feet, and continued to roll forward to do the same to the swordsman. They recovered too quickly for me to take full advantage of the break. Shortcut was moving those swords at blinding speeds. Only the whistling sounds kept me alert as to their position. And Snakebite could liquefy and harden that gold material into a virtually infinite variety of different shapes at will. And faster than anything that I could keep up with. They were better than I thought. This has to come to an end….now.

It was then that I saw another train coming toward us from the opposite direction on a different track. This was going to have to be perfectly calculated to work.

With a few distracting maneuvers on my part, I made my move. I waited for the passing train to get to the very LAST car…and then I spun my leg around twice to roundhouse both attackers on either side of me, nearly pulling a muscle. Then…I jumped. I had almost missed my very narrow window of opportunity, and rolled to the very edge of the last car, nearly falling to the racing train tracks beneath me. The hunters caught on to the play and both ran to jump on board as well.

I was counting on that.

I got up on one knee, and I stretched my hand out in front of me. I couldn’t have used my extra in the graveyard. It takes soooo much energy to be effective. If I had used it earlier I wouldn’t have had the stamina to fight my way out of there. But for now, I’m praying that this will be enough of a massive impact to ensure my escape.

It began as a fever inside my head. Then, what felt like a growing vacuum in the center of my chest. I saw the two hunters jumping in mid air to continue their pursuit, almost as if in slow motion. I was only going to have one shot at this. I’d better make it count.

I could already feel myself being drained emotionally and physically from the effort. I knew that it was going to wipe me out, but the  had to be strong enough to work with just ONE shot! No holding back on this one! Knowing that,  I allowed the powerful sensation shoot forth out of my palm and the energy surrounded them in mid jump. And suddenly…their extras were completely shut down. Every vampire trait, every supernatural advantage, every last detail that made them anything more than your average human being…was gone in a flash. I cancelled out their frequencies, and I watched as their mighty leap from one train to another was cut drastically short. Shortcut’s swords lost their glow, Snakebite’s gold became brittle and fell off of her shoulders in giant chunks and flakes of unused glitter…and they both fell to the tracks in a heap, rolling behind the train for nearly twenty feet after hitting the gravel below. Breaking limbs, scarring flesh. It would take them more than a few sleep cycles to heal from wounds that severe. I was sure of it.

I fell back to the roof of the train as the fatigue overwhelmed me, and looked up at the stars as it rushed me away to safety. At least for now.

I may have passed out. I seemed to have lost track of a couple of minutes. I should have known better than to come back here. It was too soon for me to resurface. Watts isn’t ever going to give up on trying to bring me back to the Elders in the Circle Nocturnus. Not ever. I should have expected him to still be watching. Stupid. If only I had remained underground and off of their . Now he’s seen me. Face-to-face. He knows I’m alive. Which means he’s NEVER going to stop hunting me now.

I got off of the train as soon as it went down into the subway, and I navigated the underground tunnels until I found my little stash of extra clothes, medications and bandages, extra cash, and a few weapons. I ‘prettied’ myself up as best as I could, and then walked until I got to a train platform close to where my boyfriend, Spencer, and I were staying.

There was an old church on the West outskirts of town. An Irish priest by the name of Father Sean McDonnell was kind enough to give us sanctuary whenever we came to visit as a favor to my father. We stayed down in the basement. An old part of the church that survived a horrific fire many years earlier and was never rebuilt to be a functional part of the church from then on. It didn’t have to be too impressive for us to call it home.

I came downstairs, and naturally…Spencer freaked when he saw the scars. He did all he could to nurse and cuddle me while I did all I could to calm him down. I didn’t even realize that I had been shot in the back at least twice during the scuffle. I was too engaged in the battle to even notice. Maybe that’s why my skills were a bit off tonight.

“Baby…they hurt you….” He said, kissing me gently on the cheek from behind as he wiped away some of the dried blood from my skin with a wet rag. Spencer. Lovely Spencer. Sometimes I feel terrible about taking such a beautiful blond boy away from the world and keeping him for my very own. Even more so for dragging him into a world of hiding and secrets and violence. I crossed over the same time he did. A time when we were certain that being together forever was as simple as following our hearts at that magical teenage moment and saying the words out loud. Sometimes I wonder if he could have had a better life…had it not been for me. But when I look into those deep brown eyes and see him smile…something tells me that everything we sacrificed to be together was worth it. Some things were just meant to be.

I need time to think. I need to find new places to hide. If I know Watts and his team, they’ll be narrowing down all possibilities and leaning on informants in order to pinpoint my location. I may only have a few days before he figures something out.

There was a time when I thought my extra could be studied and used to not only pacify vampires in places where violence wasn’t allowed…but to possibly REVERSE the vampire curse altogether. They’ve been using technologies in sanctuaries and clubs all over the country that were built off of my extra’s blueprint. The IceZone underground club in Chicago was one of the first to take full advantage of it. But they want more. They haven’t perfected it yet, and they want the whole show. A technological device that can render a vampire completely helpless. Human. Unable to defend themselves. How could I have been so easily mislead? With power like that…they could enslave our kind and keep them under their control forever if they wanted to. I’ve seen the framework of their future plans, and I won’t let them do it. I won’t let them use me to force our kind into an existence of eternal servitude.

I have to run.I have to keep a low profile. And I have to protect that which matters most….the love of my life.

I’ll heal. Two sleep cycles, tops. But when that’s done…it’ll be time to prepare ourselves. Because now that Watts is hot on my trail again after faking my own death, he’s going to come at me with everything he’s got.

I plan to be ready.

He’s either going to close out his case file…or I’m going to close out mine.

The endgame is coming. I can feel it.

 

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